Explore My News,
Thoughts & Inspiration

Recently I wrote about having a pantry full of resources to use when I face hard times.  What I didn’t specifically spell out was that I had just received a diagnosis of breast cancer.  My update to close friends had a subject line of “A little bit of bad news, a whole lot of good news”.  And that is what it was. Bad news – cancer. Good news – it’s small, contained, doesn’t appear to have spread, clear path was a lumpectomy and not a mastectomy and so on.  The appointment with the surgeon confirmed this. It was described by various doctors as “run of the mill cancer” or “routine cancer”.

Surgery was a week ago.  I was home by noon. No nausea from the anesthesia. Essentially no pain or soreness. I felt great. The surgeon was sure she’d gotten it all and didn’t see any indication it had spread to the lymph node she took just to be sure.

The followup surgeon’s visit on Friday was supposed to be a breeze – a quick checkup on the way to lunch with a couple of people who mean a lot to me.  The incision was declared good and healing. My arm movement was great.

And then the “but”.

But the cancer has spread to the lymph node.  It was a surprise to the surgeon. And it was a shock to me.  

So once again I’m waiting.  When I wrote about my pantry, I was waiting for the appointment with the surgeon.  This time I’m waiting for the appointment with the oncologist.

There’s still a lot of good news.  This doesn’t change the final result – but it does potentially change the path to get there because it puts chemo on the table as a likely treatment protocol.  

And here’s what I know so far.  

The tears that were a gift before are a gift again.  God is still answering my prayer to restore my tears to me, to give me back that particular expression of emotion.  It’s still primarily a tender, private thing between me and the Lord – but it may grow.

I am not afraid.  I am calm. I’m sleeping well at night.  There’s a peace that does pass understanding and I am in the middle of it.

I am being knit to my Georgia community in new ways – and the deeper community I’ve yearned for here is showing up and pouring out love and care in all sorts of ways.  A desire of my heart is happening (even if I wouldn’t have chosen this particular way for it to happen).

The God who I know loved me and cared for me before the news of the spread is the same God who loves and cares for me after the news.  He didn’t change – and this is not a surprise to Him. I may be shifting gears, but He is not.

I can decide – and cling to – what is true even before I know how the circumstances will turn out. There’s a chance this won’t involve chemo, but whether it does or doesn’t, it does not change the truth about God’s character.  If God is good, then He’s good whatever news comes next, whatever treatment is right, whatever side effects it may bring. It’s not a naive need to say the right thing. It’s a conviction based on years of deep relationship.

I’m going to have to develop my voice in new ways.  I will have to learn to say “I need help”, but also be able to say the harder version – “I’d like help”.  Or “I don’t want to be alone.”

I’ll need to learn to graciously receive the care (and potential wisdom) behind the unsolicited offers of medical advice, while still protecting myself from being overwhelmed.  I desire to be open to wisdom – and I know there are new and non-traditional protocols that may be worth considering. There are options and great stories and things that have worked well for others.  But there will also need to be boundaries to protect myself from too many voices.

I’m going to have to decide who I listen to – which advice-givers, which doctors.  My discernment will need to be sharpened to learn to hear the Holy Spirit’s nudge not just in spiritual matters but in medical ones as well.

Do I play out worst case or “what if” scenarios in my mind?  To be honest, I don’t – with one exception. Will I lose my hair?  What will that be like? Would my Connecticut friends – those long standing friends who are also my rock and my lifeline – be able to come be with me at that point if I needed them?  What is going to be my safe place to get used to that? Will it become a reality?

It’s not an all consuming thought process, but it’s the one I wonder about most right now.  That may change. I don’t really know what to expect.

This is the beginning of a story I would never have chosen.  But I’ve learned – even in the times that have involved real and deep and damaging pain – that the stories I allow God to write in my life are full of gifts, redemption, new understanding of who He is and who I am.  I grow. Opportunities arise to care for others as a result of my experience. I end up fuller, not emptier.

So I’m shifting gears.  My circumstances have changed.  God has not. And in the midst of the uncertainty and waiting, I still cling to my verse:  I know and rely on the love God has for me.  (1 John 4:16)